Campbell House part of our proud heritage

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 18, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

John Campbell may be best known as the founder of Ironton, a pioneer ironmaster and railroad developer, but this weekend, he will be recognized for helping many slaves find their freedom.

On Sunday, the Ohio Historical Society and the Ohio Bicentennial Commission will unveil a historic marker at the John Campbell House as part of an ongoing effort to highlight prominent events and sites relating to Ohio's role in the Underground Railroad. This month, 20

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Ohio historical markers related to the topic will be recognized or dedicated.

The Campbell House, located on Fifth and Lawrence streets is, perhaps, the most recognizable building in Ironton. The majestic, yellow early Victorian brick house built in the 1850s is now home to the Lawrence County CAO.

Campbell was an active abolitionist and aided fugitive slaves by concealing them in two semi-concealed rooms under the hip roof of this home. He used furnace wagons to transport the fugitives north through Lawrence and Jackson counties.

Lawrence County is rich in Underground Railroad history. So much,in fact, that a group of citizens united to raise money to transform the old county jail in Burlington into a museum honoring the county's Underground Railroad heritage.

The Underground Railroad was a dangerous business. After all, assisting runaway slaves was illegal at the time, and some men engaged in the business of catching runaway slaves and returning them to their owners

for rewards. Many of these men were armed and would attempt to capture the slaves at any cost - including that of another human life.

Those who assisted slaves in reaching their freedom are heroes. We should be proud of our Underground Railroad heritage. We are happy the state has chosen to recognize our city for being an important stop on the railroad.